Tracing missing relatives and providing support for those affected
In view of the current situation in Ukraine, the GRC Tracing Service provides the following information on its services.
The GRC Tracing Service assists separated families with urgent tracing needs in this difficult situation.
Currently in Ukraine, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Ukrainian Red Cross (URC) are strongly limited in their ability to actively search for missing persons, transmit Red Cross messages and visit detainees. Even outside Ukraine, the ongoing refugee movements make it difficult to clarify the whereabouts of relatives with who have lost contact with each other. The National Red Cross Societies in the countries bordering Ukraine, such as the Polish Red Cross, are supporting persons seeking protection by taking measures aimed at maintaining communication with their loved ones.
Persons who are searching for a relative can contact any GRC Tracing Service support centre in Germany. Contact details can be found at: Suchende Angehörige können sich an jede DRK-Suchdienst-Beratungsstelle im Bundesgebiet wenden. Die Kontaktdaten finden Sie unter: GRC Tracing Service branch near you.
Urgent tracing requests can also be addressed directly to the international tracing department at the GRC Tracing Service Munich Office.
Entry of refugees from Ukraine
Ukrainian nationals holding a biometric passport are allowed to enter the Federal Republic of Germany without a visa for a short stay of up to 90 days. With the ordinance of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI) of 7 March 2022, a comprehensive exemption from the visa requirement for long-term stays and generally for other groups of persons from Ukraine was also decided. This initially applies to entry into the Federal Republic of Germany until 23 May 2022. The necessary residence permit can be obtained after entry.
The EU Council Decision of 04 March 2022 establishes, pursuant to Article 5 (1) of EU Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001, that refugees are to be granted – in an unbureaucratic manner – temporary protection status in one of the member states due to the armed conflict in Ukraine. On 18 March 2022, the EU Commission published guidelines on the uniform application of the decision in the member states.
In Germany, the decision was substantiated by corresponding statements by the BMI. The following groups of persons will directly be granted a residence title in Germany pursuant to section 24 of the Residence Act:
- Ukrainian nationals who resided in Ukraine before 24 February 2022, as well as their family members.
- Stateless persons and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine who benefited from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022, as well as their family members.
- Stateless persons and nationals of other third countries who can prove that they have resided lawfully in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit issued in accordance with Ukrainian law and who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin.
- Non-Ukrainian third-country nationals who can prove that they were legally residing in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and not only for a temporary short stay and who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin.
- Ukrainian nationals who were already residing in Germany on the basis of a residence title, irrespective of the date of entry
For further details on the topic of beneficiaries of protection from Ukraine – family unity and family reunification – please refer to the specialised information of the GRC Tracing Service of 17 March 2022.
For questions regarding family reunification of and to refugees from Ukraine, you can contact any GRC Tracing Service support centre in Germany. Contact details can be found at: GRC Tracing Service branch near you.
For further details and queries on residence and the associated social rights, please consult the continuously updated websites of the Federal Government and the Informationsverbund Asyl und Migration (Information Network on Asylum and Migration):
- Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI)
- Federal Foreign Office (AA)
- Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government
- Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration
If you have any questions regarding applications for asylum, please contact a qualified asylum support centre.
Admission of ethnic German repatriates from Ukraine
The Federal Office of Administration (BVA) has posted a leaflet for admission applicants from Ukraine on its website:
The central statements can be summarised as follows:
- In the written admission procedure, applications from persons residing in Ukraine, with the exception of Crimea, will be given priority, but due to the large number of applications, immediate processing cannot be expected in each individual case.
- The BVA will support the aforementioned group of persons if there should be any problems of proof in the areas of origin, language or confession.
- The BVA expressly points out the possibility of carrying out a hardship procedure if applicants for admission are not yet in possession of a notification of admission. The BVA assumes that applicants from Ukraine meet the criteria of hardship within the meaning of section 27 (1) sentence 2 of the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG).
- Even in the case of admission by way of hardship, the other admission requirements (origin, language, confession at the time of entry) must be fulfilled; a subsequent acquisition of the necessary language skills in Germany is not possible. An exception applies only if the stay in Germany is temporary (up to 6 months).
- In addition, the BVA has set up a hotline for this group of persons, telephone: +49(0)2289 / 93 58 –20255 and also refers to the possibility of making contact by e-mail ukaine-friedland(at)bva.bund.de
For further questions on the admission procedure, please contact the GRC Tracing Service support centres in the GRC regional and district branches and the staff at the GRC Tracing Service Hamburg Office.
National Information Bureau
Since activating a National Information Bureau (NIB) is only required for parties to a conflict and the Federal Republic of Germany is not in an armed conflict, there is currently no need to activate the NIB.
In the event of war, the Geneva Conventions provide for the signatory states to set up national information centres to collect and forward information on prisoners of war and civilian internees. Through this so-called National Information Bureau (NIB), all parties to the conflict are to ensure that families receive information about the fate of their missing relatives. In the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, both states are thus required to collect the data of prisoners of war and civilian internees. The ICRC is usually responsible for mediating enquiries. In Germany, the GRC Tracing Service was entrusted in 1966 with the planning, provision and performance of such a NIB.
Public relations materials
The GRC Tracing Service is responding nationwide to the needs of those seeking protection due to the armed conflict in Ukraine. In view of the situation, the Tracing Service Head Office has produced new public relations materials at short notice, or has had already existing materials translated into Ukrainian, with which we would like to address family members who are looking for a relative and inform them on how the Tracing Service can help them. If you would like to receive the following materials as print-quality files, please contact suchdienst(at)drk.de, mentioning the materials and languages you require.
The prevention poster contains, among other things, advice in words and pictures for families on how relatives seeking protection can secure their joint contact. This poster was created on the basis of a template by the Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It is also actively used by other National Red Cross Societies in their respective corporate designs. These posters are to be placed prominently in DB trains and stations so that those affected can take note of them.
Poster “Tracing - Connecting - Reuniting”
The poster “Tracing - Connecting - Reuniting” presents the services of the GRC Tracing Service in the field of international tracing and family reunification in an easily understandable graphic form and is thus particularly suitable for making these services visible outside the GRC Tracing Service support structures.
Available language versions
German, Ukrainian, Russian, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Urdu, Dari, Somali, Tigrinya and Kurdish
Flyer “International Tracing and Family Reunification”
The flyer complements the poster “Tracing - Connecting - Reuniting” and provides further information on the services offered by the GRC Tracing Service in the field of international tracing and family reunification.
Available language versions
German, Ukrainian, English, Russian, Arabic, Dari, Urdu, Spanish, French, Somali, Kurdish
Flyer “Unaccompanied minor refugees”
The flyer is aimed specifically at unaccompanied minor refugees and is intended to provide information about the services offered as well as the working methods of the GRC Tracing Service.
Available language versions
German, Ukrainian, English, Arabic, Dari
RFL business card
Available language versions
English, French, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic and Dari
The Restoring Family Links business card of the GRC Tracing Service (RFL business card) provides concise information on the services offered by the International Tracing Service Network in the search for missing relatives and lists important contact addresses related to this service. The listed contact addresses help to identify the necessary contact points for pursuing a tracing request within and outside of the federal territory. The RFL business card is thus particularly suitable for handing out to protection seekers who have not yet reached their final place of residence. The small-format design also makes it possible to attach the RFL business card to other material offers of assistance (e.g. when handing out hygiene kits, SIM cards or food packages) that are given to protection seekers on their way to their destination.